Things are getting more serious in Syria, which is escalating into a desperate struggle for survival by the regime. The government is using heavier weapons and more extreme reprisals — a young woman, Zainab Alhusni, whose brother is an opposition activist, was found beheaded and dismembered. Yesterday, heavy government forces were said to have stormed a neighborhood in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and a place that had so far been outside the struggle.
At the same time, European sanctions have escalated, with a boycott of Syrian oil (Europe is their primary market). Even more critical, defecting members of the Army are threatening to organize an armed resistance a la Libya.
All of which means the Syrian protest is not dying down; rather it is entering an even more brutal and extreme phase. The regime is creating martyrs; the conflict is beginning to touch the key economic center of Aleppo; and there are early (but still minor) signs of cracks in the security forces. I believe strong international pressures will keep these trends going further, as will continued economic slippage. This will be a difficult struggle, but it is far from over and the odds are still, in my view, against the regime surviving another full year.